What A Comedian Taught Me About Testing

We will all remember 2020 for a lot of reasons. Personally, among the positives (and there were some, believe it or not!), I will remember this year as the year I took advice from Tim Minchin.  Tim is an absurdly funny Australian comedian.  At the start of this year, before any of us had even heard of Covid-19, my mum sent me a link to this video:- 

I’d encourage you to watch it all the way through if you can.  In under 7 minutes, Tim delivers 9 life lessons which have steered him right over the years.  One tip in particular really resonated with me.  


This clicked for me in a big way.  I’ve never been someone who has had 5 year career plans, or major life goals beyond going to university, and that was a bazillion years ago. I wondered to myself, what could happen if you followed this advice? Would it make me a better tester?  

Passionate Dedication To The Pursuit Of Short-Term Goals 

So, in deciding to listen to Tim’s dry and hilarious advice, I wondered what goals could I set for myself that would be suitably short term in nature that I could pursue relentlessly? 

I didn’t write most of these down, but in hindsight I guess some examples would have been:- 

I kept a mind map that I updated every time I tried something new.  Now, as we approach the end of the year it looks like this:-


Each one involved a large chunk of effort on my behalf, but once they were completed I could move onto the next thing.  Some were a success, others were, shall we say, “a learning curve”.  But now I can look back on them as a collection of things, I’ve achieved so much more than if I’d have tried to pursue a major but unspecific life goal. 

It has undoubtedly improved my visibility as a tester, which has led to other things.  I have never in my 12 year career received so many job offers, offers to write articles, help with bootcamps and all sorts of other amazing opportunities.  

My Tweet

It’s OK not to have a dream 

Did you fall into testing?  Like the majority of testers, I did just that.  I think to some extent it gives us a chip on our shoulders that we didn’t know this career path existed and that we weren’t dreaming of being a tester from a young age, like a lot of the developers we know were.  It might suggest we don’t have the same level of passion, but this is patently untrue. 

It’s acceptable to acknowledge the pragmatism of working in the tech industry and navigate it in a realistic way.  We don’t have the luxury of a job for life anymore, and have to move with the times.  The fact more jobs are requiring automation skills and you need to put food on the table is a perfectly valid reason to learn automation.  

I also think as testers we shouldn’t wait for permission to grow. We shouldn’t hold off on learning that new skill because our boss hasn’t given us the opportunity to learn it at work – the onus is on us to grow in our own time.  Of course this is easier said than done (and I’m sure I speak from a position of privilege on this one), but believe me there is a reward for this sort of hard work.  It might not be realised immediately, but it will be worth it. 

So thanks Tim Minchin for teaching us that it’s ok not to have a dream.  That short term goals, passionately and relentlessly strived for are more obtainable, more rewarding and will ultimately lead to more success. 

Know our Super Writer:


Beth Marshall

Senior Test Engineer

Beth has been a software tester for the last 12 years, and currently works at Safeguarding Technology firm Smoothwall as a Senior Test Engineer. Based in Leeds, UK, she has taken advantage of the extra downtime during lockdown to start a blog and present at conferences and meetups, including Testbash Manchester and TestFlix.  She will also be presenting a lightning talk at the Postman Galaxy conference in 2021 and is ridiculously excited about it. Her next goal is to attend and ideally present IRL at a face to face international testing conference in 2021.  

Feel free to connect with Beth and see more of her work here:-

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